1001 Films: Rebecca (1940)

Maxim de Winter (Lawrence Olivier) is on a vacation in Monte Carlo where he meets a wonderfully interesting woman and marries to take home back to his mansion. However, the new Mrs. de Winter (Joan Fontaine) discovers from an early stage that she has a difficult job ahead of her as her new husband’s previous wife, now deceased, still haunts him at every turn.

I don’t pretend to be any expert on classic cinema. I know that I’m pretty much lost, and that’s why I continue to go through it film after film trying to get a grasp as to how films back then relate and have come around to making films of today what they are.

One of the highest rated directors of all time is Mr. Alfred Hitchcock. He’s pretty much the man who wrote the book on suspense. However, before he made Rope, Vertigo, Rear Window, Psycho or Nort by Northwest he had to start out with films like Rebecca. The film is more about the psychological drama of this new Mrs. de Winter trying to reach her husband and get him over this tragedy and prepare him to fully love her and let them start a life together.

While at first she doesn’t really get that she’s the one who’s fallen in love that there’s this thing that’ll keep a distance between Maxim and herself she eventually sees it, which is why at first you – as a viewer – are just finding her character sad. She doesn’t see that she’s just the woman that Maxim found to distract him from his grief and we all expect for this relationship to be no more than a fling for Maxim that ends up ruining her. However, as the film progresses – and it does so slowly – you find that the new Mrs. de Winter is a lot more prepared for her job at hand than Hitchcock would have you believe. She shows a sense of calm and adult-like fully formed wits to handle the difficult situation at hand perfectly, and she does without seeming sinister or demeaning.

The problem I have with this movie is that it takes so long to get me hooked. Unlike many other, what some people call, drawn out dramas where you recognize how painstakingly difficult it was to get to that moment of realization which makes everything better is that when this one comes around – as brilliant as it is – it just didn’t take the pain of the previous hour and forty minutes (or however long it takes) of the movie which seems to really meander around a romance that I just can’t buy into working.

IMDB says 8.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes says 100%
I say 6.5/10